Thom Gunn said that, in his poem ‘On the Move’. It’s been playing in my mind a lot just lately, that line. Maybe because the new year has well and truly started now, I’ve become rather reflective on what I’ve achieved so far and what I hope to achieve. Sometimes it gets me down, other times I’m a tad more positive – it all depends on my mood (and how well the writing’s going that day).
Last year I (only) managed to get eight stories published, with a couple more accepted for a later release. The (only) is mood dependant, as I said. I’m proud of them. I hope that’s not vain, but I am. A lot of work went into each one. ‘Fata Morgana’ was massive, with a lot of world building that didn’t make it into the final story (though I’ve a follow-up planned). ‘Night Fishing’ was difficult in a different way, quite personal and emotionally hard to write. ‘Bloodcloth’ saw more revisions than any of my stories to date – how much to explain, how much to show, how much to just let be – and in the end I risked leaving a lot up to the reader. I’m glad, because that was what the story needed.
My point is that each story I write demands a lot from me in different ways, even if that demand is a little silly – ‘Waste Disposal’ was me responding to someone’s challenge to write about something that really grosses me out and I think I typed the whole thing with a wrinkled nose. So to speak. I should probably fix that sentence but I like the image of bashing at the keyboard with my face – it seems both funny and strangely appropriate.
This year I’m finding the whole writing experience even harder. I think that’s a good thing. I think it means I’m pushing myself more. Not just to get more out there, in more places, but to write more challenging stories. Sometimes that’s good and I can go to bed (eventually) rather pleased with myself. Other times it slows me right the fuck down and I get barely anything done and that can be quite depressing. But even that can be a good thing too, sometimes: ‘Shark! Shark!’ was me having a break, cutting loose, having a bit of fun without thinking about where the story would go, and it ended up getting some great feedback (not always, but I won’t point you to those reviews). I even tried my hand at flash fiction and that was just as tough as I thought it would be. I’m pretty sure I broke the rules a little with ‘A Mother’s Blood’ and ‘The Rain Deer’ regarding length, but I’m glad I challenged myself.
As hard as this writing business is, it’s also the best profession/pursuit/dream I’ve ever had. I don’t know if I’ll get to where I want to go, but I know I’ll only get closer by not keeping still. Not like those motorcyclist’s in Gunn’s poem, but like a shark – I’d die if I stopped. Too much? Maybe. True though.
So into the darkness I go, like Robert on that train in ‘All Change’, moving forward with my monsters. Sometimes they’re glad to see me, other times…not so much.
Eight stories to beat. Wish me luck.